Those who know me as a teacher, know I am not interested in students developing an externally looking perfect asana, as much as instead, over time, the students growing, learning the abc of poses well first and then I am interested in them developing an awareness of ‘the spaces’. The spaces being the pelvic cavity, abdominal cavity, the chest cavity, our throat, our head. I am interested in that developing, so that they can become independent of me, creative and even teach me their findings.
Developing a sensitive listening over time, is fundamental to us growing in our personal practice. Knowing the abc of the body movements to begin with is a necessary step to finding the way into these spaces. Learning to focus a necessary milestone, to find eventually the asana. The focus becomes a quiet observing awareness of the whole as well as the particular, over time and in the end even that phase passes and we are being ‘asaned’, moved, healed from the inside, we become receptive and receivers of the flow of prana within.
Over time, over a long time, the practice evolves and that listening takes us to an honesty where the pose becomes internal. It is difficult to catch in a photo. It becomes the pose of an evolution, which becomes involution, introspection- a sacred journey in honouring our body as a vehicle that day after day serves us through wnat we are called to do.
Svadhyaya – journey of the self, and ahimsa_ non violence to ourselves in how we practce, become deeply connected as masks of the self start dropping away as we slowly observe, are, become, or ‘un-become’.
My practice this morning started with a thought of both relief and guilt at the same time. Relief : finally there was enough space to have the luxury to be on a floor alone. Guilt : I was not using that space to be downstairs with my parents. I watched that and took a breath in.
My neck and upper back have been feeling the strain of these last 6 weeks, from when my mother nearly left us to getting her as settled as it is possible, back at home.
All of those emotions, all of this holding , sometimes well, sometimes less so, were showing very clearly this morning in my upper back and neck aching area to start with, so that is where I started practicing.
I remembered Guruji writing in one of the first pages of Light on Yoga, that we could practice everywhere-most homes had blankets, tables, cushions and chairs. So I started.
As the layers of stress started to get undone, I felt like an onion being peeled. Always more tension showing, more subtle, deeper.
Two chairs for my uttanasana/ adho mukha svanasana, with my head between the chairs and my legs bent at the knees to allow the realease of the back, the freedom of my abdomen and the lightness of my neck and head- the chairs taking the weight of my shoulders. I stayed til the release of tension felt enough to allow me to move on.
Sirsasana between the two chairs. Hello abdomen how are you? Breathing.
I was walking in town and went past an ironmonger a couple of days back. There was a roll perfect to cut a matt out of. Matt rolled up… chair viparita dandasana. These weeks have taken their toll. Legs have to be bent, but my belly loves it and my back and neck say a huge thank you.
I let the body lead when I practice. It is a dance, the body shows me the place that is ready to open more, a bit at a time.
I take the chair and place it an an angle so its back is at the top of the thighs and my forhead find its earth spot to rest on on its seat. I become quiet for a while. When I come out there is a spot behind the heart calling, a chest desperate for more space. Diaphragm calling too. I go to the sofa bed I have been sleeping on for a while and hang off it in viparita dandasana. Sadly, without the legs being straight to balance the lightness of the pressure on the head, it is a loaded pose, there’s no balance, no peace that way. My legs first thing this morning, are not ready to be straight as yet.
My teacher Firooza said once we have to be like a good cook, looking for which spices are in the kitchen when we practice. I look for a chair and turn it upside down on its legs. Supported supta virasana. It is a beginning. It makes me realise the tightness of the skin and level just below, the spaces between each breath and the size, how high near the level of the skin they are. I patiently settle. I watch until that starts to shift into relaxation and stay for a while.
My belly still calls…blankets and cushions -paryankasana . Without the head support it is too strong. The cushion goes at the back of the neck at an angle. Perfect. The thighs are tight. I stay with the breath. Over time, the pose comes with its peace. Finally my ribcage starts to show, it was so overpowered by everything else.
I look around again for somewhere to hang from. The only thing is the table. I try and find that I am scared, so…i drag the armchair near the table to help and hang off the table, my legs supported and my trunk releasing…now my ribcage and lungs have all the space and balance, my abdomen is deep, my head clear. My body feel spacious inside and light. There is clarity and fullness in the breath now. The path has been cleared.
Ready for savasana. Savasana, ready at last to receive.
Here are my companions, careful spices selected by observing the feelings in the body.